The Four Pillars Of Organisational Design – Capabilities


Regarding CAPABILITIES always remember; we are looking at the roles, not the people. 

So, let’s make a start and firstly take a spin on organisational capabilities! 

The Operational capability of an organisation looks at a company’s efficiency and effectiveness. It encompasses the skills, routines, and processes that enable a business to operate smoothly and meet the needs of its stakeholders. The nitty gritty from top to bottom and all that’s in between! 

These capabilities develop over time, tailored to the specific requirements of each organisation, and provide a competitive edge by ensuring consistency and quality in operations.  

To experience growth, we must first ensure we have the right people, in the right role doing the right things. 

For example, consider a restaurant kitchen. While many recipes may be similar across establishments, each restaurant develops its own unique processes for sourcing ingredients, preparing dishes, and delivering a memorable dining experience. These organisational capabilities distinguish one restaurant from another, shaping its identity and customer satisfaction. 

An Overview 

The roles are like the backbone of a company, providing the necessary support and direction to keep them running smoothly. Think of them as the captains steering the ship through stormy seas, guiding the crew towards their destination of success. 

Let’s start at the top of the hierarchy, where you’ll find the executives and the visionaries. Those who set the course and make the big decisions that shape the company’s future.  

They’re the ones with their eyes on the horizon, always looking for new opportunities and challenges to tackle. 

Beneath them are the managers and department heads, the ones who translate the vision into action. They’re the glue that holds everything together, overseeing day-to-day operations, setting goals, and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives. See the structure forming here? 

But pivotal roles aren’t just confined to the top levels of the organisation.  

They also extend to specialised positions and teams that play a crucial role in driving innovation and maintaining excellence in key areas.  

Whether it’s the R&D team developing cutting-edge products, the customer service team ensuring satisfaction, or the IT department keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes, these roles are essential cogs in the machine. 

​​​So, what are some of the Pivotal and Critical Operational Roles?  

Within most organisations, certain positions wield considerable influence over the trajectory of its future structure, operations, and overall prosperity. While these positions typically belong to leadership roles, it’s worth noting that every role within the company plays a crucial part in propelling its advancement. Pivotal roles are distributed across all teams, and achieving maximum effectiveness necessitates a well-balanced distribution of responsibilities across these teams. 

There are no fixed rules, but here we glance at the essential roles or a variation of what we would expect to see within the leadership structure : 

Chief Executive Officer (CEO): The top dog in charge! The CEO sets the company’s course, vision, and vibe. They’re the big cheese overseeing everything from A to Z. 

Chief Financial Officer (CFO): The money magician! The CFO manages the company’s cash flow, budgets, and financial wizardry. They’re the bean counter extraordinaire, making sure the numbers add up and the profits roll in.  

Chief Operations Officer (COO): The operations guru! The COO keeps the wheels turning smoothly day in and day out. They’re the master of efficiency and operational awesomeness.  

Chief Technology Officer (CTO): The tech whiz! The CTO leads the charge on all things tech-related. They’re the innovation maestro, turning ideas into reality and keeping the company on the cutting edge. 

Chief Information Officer (CIO): The tech guardian! The CIO keeps the company’s digital fortress safe and sound. They’re the data defender, IT guru, and cyber superhero. 

Human Resources Director: The people whisperer! The HR Director takes care of the company’s most important asset—its people. They’re the culture creator, talent wrangler, and employee advocate all rolled into one. It could be argued that the HR director is also a pivotal role too due to their planning responsibilities for future talent hire.  

Supply Chain Director: The logistics legend! The Supply Chain Director keeps the company’s supply chain humming along like a well-oiled machine. They’re the efficiency expert, cost cutter, and delivery dynamo. 

Sales Director: The dealmaker! The Sales Director leads the charge on bringing in the moolah. They’re the smooth talker, relationship builder, and revenue rainmaker. 

Marketing Director: The brand maestro! The Marketing Director paints the company in the best light possible. They’re the storyteller, brand builder, and customer whisperer. 

Research and Development Director: The innovation ninja! The R&D Director is always on the lookout for the next big thing. They’re the idea generator, problem solver, and innovation architect.  

These folks are the movers and shakers, the game changers, and the heartbeat of the organisation! Those that are poised to meet any new emerging challenge.  

In essence, these roles are the heartbeat of the organisation, pumping life and energy into every aspect of its operations. Without them, the company would struggle to function effectively, like a ship adrift without a compass. But with the right people in place, guiding the way, the possibilities are endless.  

In smaller businesses, responsibilities may be shared among a few individuals but on the whole all of these areas are as important as the next.   

​​​Sustainable Roles – The bread and butter of the everyday!  

Now that we’ve explored the pivotal and critical organisational roles within the business, let’s shift our focus to the more sustainable roles—the backbone of the day-to-day operations.  

These sustainable roles are the silent heroes of the organisation, working behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning smoothly. Here we highlight HR, IT and the Finance department, along with all the amazing Customer Service and Sales Teams – those that are handling all the bookings, handling the invoices and bringing in the business on the coal face! 

Like clockwork, they handle routine tasks and operational functions that are vital for the business to function seamlessly. While they might not always steal the spotlight, these roles are essential for maintaining stability and continuity within the organisation. 

Teams entrusted with sustainable roles serve as the cornerstone of the organisation, ensuring smooth sailing in day-to-day operations. They’re the silent superheroes, diligently executing crucial tasks with precision and a dash of flair. These heroes not only uphold the company’s mission and goals but also infuse the workplace with playful vibes and boundless energy! 

In essence, while pivotal or critical operational roles may drive strategic decisions and shape the direction of the organisation, sustainable roles provide the necessary support and infrastructure to keep the wheels turning.  

​​​Assessing the Declining Roles 

In any industry, at any given time, we’d be foolish not to acknowledge and address the reality of declining roles. This phenomenon isn’t unique to any specific sector; rather, it’s a natural consequence of the ever-changing landscape of business and technology. 

When contemplating the prospect of declining roles within our organisation, it’s crucial to adopt a proactive approach that not only addresses immediate challenges but also prepares us for the evolving landscape ahead.  

In today’s dynamic environment, factors like technological advancements, shifting market trends, and global forces can significantly impact the demand for certain roles, leading to their decline over time. When facing such changes, our focus must extend beyond simply managing workforce reductions. Instead, we really must explore avenues for upskilling and reskilling our employees, empowering them to adapt to new opportunities and challenges. 

Let’s also dive into the fascinating world of the aging workforce, where we uncover both challenges and hidden treasures! As our seasoned employees’ edge closer to retirement, it’s natural to see a shift in certain roles and skills. But hold on to your hats because there’s a silver lining! Instead of lamenting this transition, we’re gearing up to tap into the goldmine of wisdom and expertise these folks bring to the table.  

Picture this: continuous learning and development initiatives to keep their skills sharp in a world that’s constantly evolving. And wait, there’s more! What about rolling out mentoring programs, where the torch of knowledge is passed from seasoned pros to fresh-faced newcomers, sparking a vibrant culture of growth and discovery throughout the organisation! 

We must acknowledge that it’s not just technological advancements driving changes in the workforce; market dynamics and global forces also play a significant role. Economic shifts, geopolitical factors, and changing consumer preferences can all influence the demand for specific roles and skill sets. This may involve reimagining traditional job roles and exploring interdisciplinary opportunities that align with emerging market trends. 

Furthermore, as certain roles become obsolete or redundant for whatever reason, we must proactively support affected employees in transitioning to new roles or industries. This could involve offering retraining programs, career counselling, or facilitating opportunities for internal mobility.  

By investing in our employees’ development and providing pathways for growth and reinvention, we not only mitigate the impact of declining roles but also cultivate a resilient and future-ready workforce. 

In essence, dealing with fewer job opportunities means we need to do a few different things. We must help people learn new skills, adjust to changes, and move into different jobs smoothly. By encouraging learning throughout life, tapping into the experience of older workers, and staying flexible with what’s happening in the job market worldwide, we can tackle any challenges that come our way and stay strong. 

Capability Mapping – Polarity Mapping  

In the realm of organisational development and strategic planning, there’s a powerful tool known as Polarity Mapping that deserves our attention. It guides us through the complexities of change, helping us navigate from where we are to where we want to be. 

Think of Polarity Mapping as a cartographer’s tool, meticulously plotting the coordinates of our organisational journey. It marks both the familiar terrain of our present circumstances and the uncharted territories of our aspirations.  

However, unlike traditional maps that offer a linear path from point A to point B, Polarity Mapping recognises that our voyage is not always so straightforward. 

What makes Polarity Mapping truly invaluable is its ability to uncover hidden truths and shed light on areas of potential disagreement.  

It’s like turning on a spotlight in a dimly lit room, revealing our collective vision and exposing those inevitable tensions between competing priorities— this supports leaders to navigate change with finesse and agility.  

A value tool worth of consideration! 

Closing Statement and Summing up!  

Here ends the Let’s Talk Talent CAPABILITIES blog – A whistle stop tour around the assessment and understanding of the crucial roles of an organisation and the complexity of this difficult area of business.  

If you would like a free downloadable toolkit to embrace the fundamentals of OD then request it here  

And remember of the four pillars of OD, Capabilities is often the pillar of Organisational Design we might look at first. There is no hard and fast rule to the order in which we process our OD project.  

If this has got you thinking, and you’d like to talk through your options then we are available to discuss your next steps on a call. Click Here to find out how.  

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